Maybe you have drawn up a will or even went to the extent to attend a seminar about something such as The 6 Things That Could Be Missing In Your Estate Plan and subsequently met with the firm who gave the presentation for a first and last meeting to set your plan in place. You probably even have a beautiful leather bounded binder with all of your estate planning papers secured inside as well as a list of the attorney and/or financial planner’s name address, telephone, etc. Am I close?
The question I have for you, however, is: Does your estate plan express the wishes of a “Traditional Family” (1st Husband and 1st Wife with their children) or your wishes?
Did you know 1,300 new blended families form every day? Or that over 50% of US families are remarried or re-coupled? Or; furthermore, that 65% of remarriages involve children from a prior marriage?1
Sadly, too many estate planners employ a canned estate plan that only employs solutions for traditional families when simply traditional planning does not work! Let’s look at a few possible blended family dilemmas.
Family Assets: Mom remarries at 68 after Dad passed away a few years prior. Mom is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and passes very quickly. The new husband will not let the children in the house to get treasured family assets such as their parent’s wedding rings, family pictures, etc.
The Family-Owned Business: Dad dies and didn’t have a prenuptial with his second wife. Now the second wife is a business partner with her step-children.
Hard Earned Family Money: Mom remarries after many years of widowhood. After the marriage, the newlywed couple signed all new legal documents. One of which named her new husband durable power of attorney. After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease Mom was transferred to a nursing home facility. Over the next couple of years, her new husband drained all of her accounts totaling millions and filed for divorce.
True Love and Children: Dad finally met the love of his life after 25 years of being single, but she is 35 and the kids don’t approve. He wants to ensure she will be taken care of, but doesn’t want to disinherit his kids and grandkids.
A Legacy for The Grandkids: After Mom and Dad passed they left everything to their 3 children with hopes that if anything happened to one of them their grandchildren would receive these assets. 2 years after their death their daughter was killed in a fatal car accident. Her husband remarried quickly as to find a new mother for his children. Sadly, he had a heart attack at the young age of 43 and died. Instead of the grandchildren receiving the legacy of their grandparents, their dad’s new wife, whom their grandparents never met, received their assets. Today her children are enjoying the rights to them.
Unfortunately, these are just a few of many stories we have heard. The reason there are so many is due to the fact that so many estate plans are for the traditional family when the traditional family rarely exists in today’s society.
It is our experience that when you give an estate planning questionnaire to a couple to fill out, you will not get a true and/or complete picture of their individual situations, family dynamics, concerns and wishes. Most of the discussions we have with the families we work with regarding estate planning, or what we call Legacy Planning, involve in-depth conversations and often times questions that are not necessarily comfortable to address, but pertinent to address in order to avoid family dilemmas at a later date. In some cases it even involves two of these visits and this is before we ever visit with an attorney. Legacy Planning is not about the pretty leather binder and a pile of documents. It is about protecting your personal and family wishes no matter the circumstances.
- US Bureau of Census
Kennedy Financial Services, Inc. does not provide tax or legal advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified tax adviser for tax advice and an attorney for legal advice.